I remember being told, many years ago, never to aim a camera directly into the sunlight to take a photograph. This of course, only made me curious about what would happen if I did! So I started defying this advice and took some wonderful photographs, finding out for myself how to position the camera to get the best effects!
Telling someone NOT to do something, often only...
puts the idea in their head! DON’T think of a black cat riding a unicycle! I said DON’T!! It’s impossible not too!
But the issue isn’t just with don’t, it’s with do too!
Managers often assume that if they TELL their team how to do something, they will comply! Not only is this unrealistic it is also unreasonable!! Most people learn best through their experiences not your experiences. It can be frustrating as a Line Manager when you have the answers and you know it works, yet people simply follow their own path. So how do you get people to follow the right path? Especially when something is business critical or requires accountability and compliance?
Coaching is the answer! Right?
On joining a new company many years ago, I asked the simple question, “Where can I find the paper for the printer?” The Manager, who I can only assume had recently been trained in the art of ‘coaching’ replied, “Where do you think you might find it?” I hesitated, there was no sign of sarcasm, perhaps this was some sort of initiation, so I played along. “Well, the logical place would be by the printer, but it’s not there.” “So where else could you look?” Seriously!! “In a cupboard?” I suggested. “Yes, which cupboard might you look in first?” “Well if I knew that I wouldn’t be asking you would I?”
Great Managers use ‘CMF’ (Coaching, Mentoring and Feedback)
Often managers are told they should ‘coach’ their direct reports but coaching as a Line Manager is not the same as coaching as a professional business coach! As a Line Manager coaching, mentoring and feedback are not separate to each other, they come as a package. The trick is to know when to coach, mentor or give feedback, and what results you are getting whilst using them.
What is the real difference between coaching, mentoring and feedback as a Line Manager?
Well, there are thousands of dedicated books, articles and some startlingly bad YouTube clips out there that aim to define these, but here’s my brief offering, specifically relating to being a Line Manager;
Consider all three as a neat little bundle not as individual techniques. The skill is to understand what to use and when to use it. Coaching on behaviour works well but avoid it for new starters - I eventually found the paper, but lost respects for the manager! Mentoring will be welcomed by those who seek it and sometimes you will need to tell people DON’T, but black cats and unicycles rarely crop up in conversation, so you should be fine! And finally feedback works well when expectations have been set out.
And sometimes, just sometimes your team’s best development may well come when they completely ignore all your advice and shoot into the light! The question is, are you brave enough to let them try?
Learning doesn't just happen in a training session. It happens all around us! Follow my ramblings and continue to see the world in a different light!